The History of the Air Force 1

The History of the Air Force 1

by Ian Peterson

The History of the AF1

At LIKELIHOOD, we believe that all our products are special, none more so than the Nike Air Force 1, which to many is the the best everyday sneaker ever made.

The AF1 has been a staple for collectors, artists, casual shoppers, and everyone in between for years now. Designed by Bruce Kilgore in 1982, the Air Force 1 was initially released as a hi-top intended to introduce the newest Nike tech to the basketball court: the Nike “Air” cushioning system. Its debut colorway featured grey accenting, a chunky sole, and a strap added for extra security.

While these details would appear commonplace today, they were widely interpreted as overly hiking inspired for the time period. Little did they know that Kilgore’s vision had predated current function-driven trends, and perfectly combined utility with style in the same way we see in modern releases today.

Due to its bulky nature, the now highly-acclaimed Air Force 1 was met with differing opinions by the sneaker and basketball community alike. The public were skeptical of how the shoe would perform on the court, a doubt immediately silenced when 6 premiere athletes including Jamal Wilkes, Moses Malone, and Bobby Jones began to wear Air Force 1s in-game. While the sneaker failed to pick up the desired momentum on the court, it brought about unprecedented success outside of it. The AF1 eventually became the sneaker of choice for inner city hustlers, and eventually a massive portion of Hip-Hop’s biggest stars.

Despite its initial cancelation, this surge in interest about the Air Force 1 caused a frenzy in 1985 upon its re-release. The three colorways included the classic grey, a new chocolate brown, and a royal blue that sold out almost instantly, bringing about a meteoric rise in the sneaker’s popularity.

It was this fanbase that carried the sneaker further when its most popular iteration--the white on white low--was released around 1997, solidifying it even further as a staple in music, high fashion spheres, and eventually the mainstream sneaker consumer.

Since then, the shoe’s reputation has blossomed, and placed itself at the forefront of sneaker culture. Worn by athletes, celebrities, students, and everyone in between, the Air Force 1 has never been more appropriate for your rotation.

Explore our AF1 collection, always available and always changing at Likelihood.